The Photographer Mindset Podcast: Guest Trip Report

A father shares the story of having the “best 7 consecutive days” of his life on a spring break trip with his son

Moterra Campervan Rental in Yosemite National Park Driving Winding Road with Half Dome in Background

In this episode of The Photographer Mindset Podcast, Aaron Mannes, a father, photographer, and guidance counselor shares his experience of traveling with his 7-year old son on a spring break trip in a Moterra van.

He tells the story of the “best 7 consecutive days” of his life as they experienced quiet moments without distractions and explored Death Valley, the Alabama Hills, Yosemite, and Bodega Bay while traveling from Las Vegas to San Francisco together.

Aaron’s experience as a father watching his son’s excitement, curiosity, confidence grow while on their trip makes for an inspiring listen.

If you’re a parent and in any way “on the fence” about van life, this will leave you day dreaming about all the places that you’d like to explore with your favorite travel companion.

Consider yourself warned!


Listen to the Podcast on Spotify or Apple Podcasts and use the guide below to navigate the podcast if you’re short on time

The highlights include:
  • (2:20) “An incredible, life-changing, core memory. It might have been the best 7 consecutive days of my life!”
  • (6:00) Comparing van life experiences, and how the trip starts
  • (8:15) Rule #1 of dispersed camping: Get there before dark (and what can happen when you break this rule!) (Top tip #1)
  • (16:15) The propensity to overpack, especially when traveling with kids, the importance of organization, and learning the “van dance” over the first 1-2 days.
  • (19:50) Will my child like it? Will they ask to go home, or complain about not having TV?
  • (21:05) A 7-year-old’s newfound autonomy turns into confidence and enthusiasm back home. (Our favorite part!)
  • (25:15) A guidance counselor’s take on what would be different if every child spent time outdoors.
  • (28:20) The joy of slowing down on the road.
  • (29:30) When troublemaker kids turn into leaders outdoors.
  • (34:20) A father and son begin to see each other as friends. (Our second favorite!)
  • (36:00) How travel reminds us what it feels like to be present, and how it leads to productive focus back home.
  • (39:15) The paradox of choice in our busy modern lives.
  • (48:30) What is JOMO? (The joy of missing out)
  • (52:30) Aaron and his son discover one of the many underrated campgrounds in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada range. (Top Tip #2)
  • (1:02:40) 3,000-year-old trees!
  • (1:04:30) The jaw-dropping recount of their first glimpse of Yosemite.
  • (1:11:30) Aaron shares his whole itinerary.
  • (1:13:15) Epic wildlife on the Tomales Point Trail at Point Reyes (<90 mins from Moterra’s SF rental hub!) (Top Tip #3)
  • (1:19:15) An experience worthy of a review…
  • (1:22:30) Sleeping well on a camping trip!

One note from the Moterra team: while we agree that anyone who is able to skip using the toilet in the van will save themselves some hassle, it’s nothing to be afraid of because we have you covered!

Contact us if you’re curious in learning more about the using the facilities while on the road.